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Monday, November 19, 2012

THE ELEPHANT WALK

Back when cars didn't fly I used to drive a big Ford taxi. Massive thing. The classic four-dead-body trunk. I lived in that car for a while since I was paying rent on the thing anyway. I'd park in the back corner of an underground garage during the day and crash out then troll the streets at night. Roll out around dusk and hit the slick parts of town first. This was when cokeheads were hip. These proto day traders would jump in the back with one of the classier escorts and get me to drive around the block a few times real slow and easy while they snarfed lines.
The crowd got darker after midnight. I'd get some of these top rank Superfly Dee-troit style pimps. Forget old school. These characters were the original ancient, agora strolling wise men and they hung out at a private after-hours club called The Elephant Walk. I had a regular deal to pick up a guy called Mace at the El Mocambo at exactly 1am on Friday and Saturday nights and drive him the twelve blocks down to the club. He was linebacker sized and all done up in purples and reds and pinks and oranges, wearing huge bell-bottoms, skin tight around the ass and crotch, frilly satin tuxedo shirt, a big flouncy cape and way wide brimmed purple fedora with a long black feather. He sported a mahogony cane with a lethal silver hawk's head bludgeon at one end. Of course it pulled out of the cane and became a serrated ten inch blade. Mace claimed he could butcher and dress a whole cow in fifteen minutes with that thing. His fists were covered in big gaudy rings that had smashed and backhanded many a face and head.
After a hard night's work pimping, drug dealing and enforcing, Mace would get in the back of my cab with a couple of his favored girls done up in wildly colorful feathers, frocks and accessorized faffenalia. It was the disco era, when bands like Sly and the Family Stone were big, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor - and for the pale-faced folk, KC and the Sunshine Band, along with Average White Band.
Mace was already big 'n' tall but wore five-inch gold platform boots with clear plexiglas soles full of blue-tinted water and each sole housed a Japanese fighting fish. He had a tankful of exotic aquatica since these creatures rarely lasted through a single night of being violently sloshed around, especially when Mace found it necessary to put the boots to some malefactor or deadbeat.
Once in the cab, Mace would tap me on the shoulder with the head of his cane and say: "Motherfuckin home, James." He was an early version of the black dude who enjoyed having white people work for him, and Mace paid well. One night he tipped me with a  snub-nose .38 caliber revolver that had been beautifully chromed. I held onto that gun for years before I had to sell it during a particularly rough patch.
The thing about Mace was he ran his empire as if it was an afterthought, like he had other, more important shit on his mind. He always had me drive real slow as he scoped the street, who was doing what and where. He was part of a group of hard-knuckled Detroit pimps who'd expanded their reach to Toronto and took over the main tenderloin drags, Yonge Street and Spadina Avenue. The only time I ever saw him hurry was after shooting a local competitor in a Jamaican watering hole called The Paramount. The victim was a fellow pimp who took three slugs in the back and was dead before his face hit the tabletop.
Mace was would often talk of the Rules of Engagement.
"You read the scene," Mace told me. "I mean you READ the motherfucker. You know shit's gonna go down. You don't vibe the motherfucker, you don't gun him off, you don't grab no fuckin attitude. You keep it all cool and smooth and DO the motherfucker before any kinda eyeballin or any kinda shit talk. It ain't no movie, mothafucka! You hurt the motherfucker bad, real bad. The rest of them faggot cocksuckers gonna be backin off forth-fuckin-with. Never EVER give the motherfucker a motherfuckin chance. NEVER." And then Mace would laugh a huge gold-toothed laugh, just ringing in the cab like a giant clanging church bell. "The righteous survive, brother. Be righteous."

part 2 of The Elephant Walk coming soon...